March 15, 2016
Psalm 77:10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
(Before I begin, a reminder of what I am currently trying to accomplish in these devotionals. I am working my way through the Psalms one-by-one, and picking out one highlight that the Holy Spirit uses to continue the process of producing the character of Christ in me. We are just past the half-way point.)
Birthdays carry the potential of discouragement. They also carry the possibility of celebration. It is quite probable that both are experienced. The outward celebration could be only a mask for the inner realities of fear, doubt, and depression. Aging can be scary. Getting old brings the doubt of worth based on the reality of reduced function. And what makes it even worse is when the memories of the productive years are gone. It is such a shame that we spend so much of our lives convinced that our value is based upon our abilities. Then we reach an age where we lose both the abilities and the memories of what we did. The result is we have nothing upon which to base our personal worth.
Now in case you are concerned, that is not what my birthday did to me yesterday. The assumption might be that I live in a state of denial about my age, and I will do everything possible to prove my abilities. That is also not true. Well, at least partly not true. I still think I can do many things that I did when I was younger, so that could be considered denial. However, I do not gain or lose personal value based on my ability or inability to continue to do those things. My performance does not dictate my worth!
In the 77th Psalm, written by Asaph, there is a verse that in the last week has become very significant in my life. It comes after Asaph has confessed that he is trying to restore the good old days. He is trying to remember how it used to be, and it’s messing up his mind. He gets so discouraged that he even blames God for not caring anymore and for withholding His love.
Have you ever really thought about what causes us to get discouraged when things can’t be the way they used to be? I have, and I have reached the conclusion that it boils down to one simple thing – I still consider the best times of my life to be the times when I was in control and things worked out for my benefit. You too, right?
When things go bad today, our default is to remember the times when things were great. We then assign ourselves the credit for them being great. This in turn reinforces our desire to take control again because we believe that since we made things great once before we can do it again.
But look at what Asaph concluded. After trying to remember the days of old (verse 5) he reaches this conclusion in verse 7 – Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
Every one of us must come to the point when we realize that the best times of our life were not defined by the good or bad circumstances we enjoyed or endured, but rather they were defined by the reality of God working in and through every one of those circumstances to produce the character of Christ in us.
Listen, there is no possible hope for the present in trying to remember what we did in the past. But, as Asaph says, I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember YOUR wonders of old. (Verse 11 – emphasis mine)
Asaph also declares that the key to understanding the past and the present is this – Your way, O God, is holy. (Verse 13) You see, through the good and the bad of the past and the present, God is at work according to His holy nature to produce the character of Christ in us. What that means is this: the circumstances of life do not define God any more than they define me. Instead, and this is a powerful truth that will transform our lives –
God designs the circumstances of life to reveal His definition of me.
So when things get tough – even unbearable – remember this: we can appeal to the years of the right hand of the Most High. His right hand upholds us, sustains us, shapes us, carries us, nurtures us, and provides for us.
But maybe most of all, His right hand assures us that we are His – not defined by life, but declared possessors of eternal life. It has to be true, for God could not hold in His hand anything that does not measure up to His holiness – a holiness we have in Christ Jesus His Son.